Saturday, July 08, 2017

Wimbledon Day 5- "We Better Get Onto the Hill, It'll Be Over Soon."

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

This BACKSPINNER sat on Court Two, having queued for resale tickets, watched Sam Querrey and Jo-W Tsonga engage in a modern classic. Having had a picture taken with Kiki Mladenovic and another with Svetlana Kuznetsova, the day was almost complete. But while we sat there watching the aces flow, Andy Murray was having another shocker. Murray, the world number one and defending champion, was having the latest in a long line of dreadful results. It has not simply been one or two shaky results, it has been a flood, a glut of bad losses, shaky wins and dropped points. He has blown leads, choked in slams and sworn at his box. And on Friday it almost reached a denouement.

Yes, Fabio Fognini is no easy player. He is totally insane. He stopped a point to challenge, but he didn't have any left. Oh and that was, by the way, a set point. Yep. So his Italian opponent is utterly unpredictable, unorthodox and can take on anyone anywhere. But he is a clay specialist. It is bordering on disgraceful that Andy Murray nearly got taken five. Rafael Nadal is looking at the sorry state the 'best player in the world is in' and thinking, I'm going to be world number one. It would take a certain set of events for Novak Djokovic to take his crown back, but it is possible. All Nadal has to do is go a round further than Murray and he will be back atop the world's summit. And he deserves it, he has earned it. He has been the best player in the world this year, with the exception of Federer, who has openly decided not to play many events.

It would be an amazing story if, years after the last time, Rafa ascended to the top once again. He was washed up, finished, broken and looked a spent force. Now he looks likely to take the top spot soon. Though there are no Olympic points to fall off his total (since Rio didn't offer any), it is likely a question of when, not if, Murray loses that top spot. And the way he has been playing since November, he should take a few months out to consider his future. He will be 31 soon. How much time does he have? Will he ever be a legitimate contender again? It does not look like it. He has been poor for so long, and in an extended slump. It is hard to get out of those.

Now the British media will spin this as him having the heart of a champion, and the qualities of a world number one. They will say that he fought hard and is ready to defend his crown. It is nonsense. His opponent choked. Fognini blew it. Murray got extremely lucky. Of course, it wouldn't be courageous and brave to admit that, but it is what happened. If we did get another Nadal versus Federer final, nine years after the last, that would be something to treaure. Let us hope it happens.

In the doubles, out on Court 18, Sam Groth and Robert Lindstedt edged the third seeds Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5. Despite a partisan crowd, the presence of Judy Murray and some superb volleys from the Scot, they couldn't find an answer to the Sam Groth serve or the Swede's grass-court prowess. Don't forget that he has been to three Wimbledon finals.

Before we get started, this BACKSPINNER would just like to extend congratulations to Ash Barty and Casey Dellacqua. They survived an upset bid but defeated Chuang/Doi 3-6, 6-3, 10-8. Down 5-2, they saved a match point and rallied to win.

In the ladies' singles the top ten seeds have mostly stayed intact, though Domi Cibulkova went out on Friday. She lost to Konjuh in three tight sets.

Finally, on a really sad note, this happened.

Just want to wish the American all the best in her recovery bid and hope that she is well. Her personality is one that makes the tour sparkle. Our thoughts are with her. I believe Todd has or will go into more depth.

Right let's go...

Nadal would not be denied. He ran away with the first two sets against the Russian, winning 6-1, 6-4 pretty quickly. As one spectator remarked to another, “we better get onto the hill, it'll be over soon.” But the Russian was warming to the challenge, and came at Nadal in the final set. He held break points at 3-4 and 5-6, too. He had big chances to sneak that set but couldn't quite get over the line. And when Nadal went 4-2 up in the breaker after an extraordinary rally, the match was all over. Two and a quarter hours, straight sets. The Russian is not fully developed and next time he plays Nadal he should win. Or at least take a set. But when Nadal breaks you four times and blasts 41 winners past you, you know it is unlikely to be your day. This has still been a fantastic tournament for the Russian; he met his seeding, the very first slam at which he received one and he challenged Rafael Nadal. But Nadal will now have to get ready to meet the exact kind of player he hates to play. Gilles Muller is a big-serving, huge-hitting guy with nothing to lose. He has a huge wingspan. He will give no quarter and take anything short to the woodshed. He is likely going to take a set and will almost certainly put the Spaniard in awkward positions and force him into tiebreaks. In 2005, when the Spaniard was also seeded fourth, Gilles Muller beat him in four sets at the All England Club. That was a totally different Nadal but the history is there.
Well, Fabio Fognini has had a marvelous tournament. He was beaten in the first round of the doubles, yes, but in the singles he didn't drop a set. He met his seeding, played some lovely tennis and avoided causing a lot of controversy. Instead he left that to Bernie Tomic, who did a superb job. Again by acting like a total eejit. But in two hours and 39 minutes, Murray took a 4-3 lead in the head-to-head by winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5. The Italian has a habit of chucking in a set if he goes a break or two down early on. Murray's pedestrian 24-16 winner ratio is in contrast to the Italian's 44-46. What Fognini never gets credit for is being a brilliant tactician. He may appear insane, but he just knows how to play matches. It is why he can also be a brilliant doubles player. He was aggressive from the off, frequently going behind Murray, and using his slice to brilliant effect. And he made the world's best player look pretty foolish for a few sets. He may be a joker, but tennis needs more like him, more players who swear, who throw rackets and who can play infuriatingly good tennis. It gives us storylines, it makes the news and people will watch. Andy Murray moves on to play Benoit Paire. The Frenchman may be unseeded but has lost just one set so far. He is also set to rise nine places to 37 in the world. He is incredibly dangerous, with a huge serve, great touch and the world's best drop shot. Watch out. In top form Murray would breeze past him. But now? Who knows.
Marin Cilic knows he has a once in a career chance here. Andy Murray is reeling. Stan Wawrinka is gone. Rafa has had problems on this surface for years. He has not lost a set. He has been ruthlessly professional, dismissing Kohl, Mayer and now Stevie Johnson and making them look ordinary. Out of nowhere the Croat has turned it on. He now looks world class as he does every year at this time. When you go 39-13 on the winners ratio, and win 6-4, 7-6[3], 6-4 in a little over two hours, that's a good day. You get on court, do your job, get off and go home. Considering the competition that's coming up, having a quick match was a must. If Marin Cilic ends up playing Nadal next week, in the quarters, put everything down and turn that on. You will not regret it. Johnson stays in the top 30, he won a couple of matches and he can go back to the U.S. and be fairly happy with how he did.
The run of the 'Brit' finally comes to an end.It began with unseating Ivo Karlovic, but it has ended here, with the Luxembourgian triumphing 7-6[4], 7-5, 6-4. Muller won 40 per cent of return points and was able to break four times to get past the former Slovenian. In the first two sets it was tight, with Muller's serve and experience keeping him ahead. But the match slowly started to get away from the youngster. By the end, Muller was in total control, despite the exuberance of the home crowd. But Aljiaz can be happy with the fact he is about to rise 11 places in the rankings to 47th. Indeed, he has charmed the Wimbledon crowds this Championships and made a name for himself. But it seemed destined that Nadal would have to face his fellow lefty. When we looked at the draw we saw that potential clash and knew that it had to come to fruition. And now, with Muller rounding nicely into form, we have it. He will have to return well, and anywhere north of 32 per cent of points won is good. If he can get up to 40 he will be in with a superb shot of winning the match. What he has to do is mix up the serve. He has to deny Rafa rhythm. If he can stop Nadal from getting a read on his serve, from getting into his service games, and take the match into breakers and tight 5-all games, he will be successful. That's one to watch.

The aces count leader is Muller with 72. Isner has 70. Anderson has 68. Cilic has 63. Bedene has 54 and Raonic just 47.
Perhaps Nishikori just didn't want to face Marin Cilic. Or maybe he just isn't that good on grass. Or maybe Bautista Agut is too frustrating. The Spaniard won 6-4, 7-6[3], 3-6 ,6-3. It was three hours and twenty minutes worth of everyone knowing it would be an upset but it taking a long time to reach its obvious conclusion. Nishikori is always an early exiter at Wimbledon and this year was no different. Plenty of long rallies, plenty of winners [92], and a heap of drama. But can Agut cause what might be the biggest upset of the championships, possibly of the year, or will he be swept away in the Cilic tide?
Some days Jerzy Janowicz just isn't at the races. Some days neither is Paire. On Day 5, Paire definitely turned up. His opponent, sadly, did not. It was a very easy 6-2, 7-6[3], 6-3 win that didn't even last two hours. The Frenchman drop-shotted his opponent into oblivion. The best thing about the match was the lively crowd atmosphere. Paire hit 60 winners, exactly three times as many as his opponent, and was absolutely on fire. The Pole was totally flat. He couldn't get going in the second set breaker and was visibly deflated in the third set. Paire just moves him around the court and hit every winner effortlessly. But can he find that level again, and keep it, against Murray?.

Dasha Gavrilova entered the mixed, and she and partner Dimitry Tursunov have already lost. So there's that. Didn't this BACKSPINNER pick the wrong player this year? She is at least at a career high of 20, and the recently new Aussie #1..

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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